ESU Student Meets Vice President of the United States and Other Top Officials at Democratic National Committee’s Campaign Training Institute
Steven Natiello, a graduate student majoring in political science at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania (ESU) heard from top democratic leaders including Vice President Joe Biden at a training and mentorship program for aspiring political activists and public servants sponsored by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last month.
Steven Natiello, a graduate student majoring in political science at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania (ESU) heard from top democratic leaders including Vice President Joe Biden at a training and mentorship program for aspiring political activists and public servants sponsored by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last month. Natiello, of Marshalls Creek, Pa., attended the Hope Institute in Washington D.C. The program focused on issues involved in running a campaign, such as communication, polling, social media, scheduling and fundraising.
While a Hope Fellow, Natiello heard from such presenters as David Plouffe, the campaign manager who directed President Obama’s 2008 campaign and author of “The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory;” Jim Messina, White House deputy chief of staff of operations and former senior campaign adviser to the Obama 2012 campaign; Robert Gibbs, a senior campaign adviser to the president, the communications director for Obama during his 2008 campaign and a former White House press secretary; and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, DNC chairperson and a U.S. congresswoman from Florida.
“Each DNC official who spoke to the Hope Fellows throughout the summit beamed with a certain sense of pride: not pride in themselves, but in the country they cherished so dearly,” said Natiello. “It was a pride shared by the American people who so decisively chose the leader whom they trusted most with the vision to move the nation forward. It was a pride that I found at once humbling and exhilarating.”
The presenters spoke about their experiences on the campaign trail, campaign strategy, the primary between Obama and Hillary Clinton, the importance of a good campaign message and addressing and diffusing the inevitable “October Surprise” and the other countless crises that arise.
Natiello said the experience was a valuable supplement to the knowledge, skills, and recent political history that he studied at ESU in both his undergraduate years as a student of communication studies and his first two semesters pursuing an M.A. in political science. He said it reinforced the lessons taught in class and his career goals.
“Those few days interacting with some of the most influential people in the country completely affirmed my decision to pursue a career in politics,” he said. “The firsthand experience with people like Lucas Fleischer, DNC digital director, and Mindy Meyers, the campaign adviser to U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, inspired me and offered me invaluable insight to pursue my career in political communications and apply every lecture and every lesson toward giving back to the community that continues to move forward.”
“Looking forward, I know the road won’t be easy. I want to find the niche that best applies the skills I’ve learned in class and the insights I’ve gained from unique experiences like the Hope Institute. I’ve worked hard, but I will need to work harder if I want to truly give back to this incredible and diverse national community,” he said.
Natiello joined 39 other applicants chosen from over 400 from around the U.S. for the three-day, all expense paid program. Hope Institute was created in 2005 by then-Senator Obama. This is the second time the program has been conducted. The goal is to allow promising democrats to benefit from and be inspired by the brightest minds in the Party.
Natiello is currently writing his thesis on the relationship between social media use and political participation and is completing an internship as the media and web manager for Country Club of the Poconos Municipal Golf Course. During the summer he works in the ESU Student Enrollment Center, archiving and indexing documents. During the academic year he works as a graduate assistant in both the ESU Department of Academic Enrichment and Learning and the Department of Political Science. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. and career in political communications when he graduates in December 2013.